Last summer, after over 20 years in a monogamous relationship with my table settings I got a serious hankerin’ for something new and different.
The truth is I had not been entirely monogamous over all those years. Over time as my just-got-married stoneware broke, chipped and I-don’t-know-what-else-but-it-looked-really-bad, I collected similar leftovers friends and relatives. It turns out that if it was stoneware with some type of pottery blue, flowery design then it looked close enough to me and was welcomed into my community of dishes without judgment or condemnation.
In my youth I apparently placed a lot more value on function than aesthetics. They were plates, we ate on them. End of story.
However, in recent years I have come to realize that I am a grown up and I do in fact have opinions about domestic stuff, like couches, paint, and appliance colors. That’s when it dawned on me that I did not like my hodgepodge of broken dishes. I wanted new. Different. Pretty. But I also wanted useful and efficient.
Finally I decided on square, white plates. I will spare you all the hemming and hawing that went into that decision, but it did take weeks.
One of the things that sold me on the idea is that when you have very little cabinet space in your kitchen (I will discuss my tiny cabinets in another post at a later date, but for now just know that my kitchen is what happens when 22-year-old girls who KNOW NOTHING and are so in love that all they want to do is get married, decide to buy a house) square dishes actually are the most efficient use of space. When dishes and bowls are round it leaves a lot of unusable space in your cabinets.
Of course the deciding factor was the OBVIOUS confirmation by the Spirit (sarcasm intended) when Costco had eight piece settings of exactly what I wanted for half price. So I called my husband, asked if he cared if I bought dishes because I am all submissive like that (more sarcasm…and I think I just heard my husband fall out of his chair laughing at me). I got the nod from him, grabbed two boxes and laughed myself silly all the way to the cash register. Y’all this was HUGE for me on so many levels.
On a domestic, homemaking level, it was like climbing out of a dark hole into broad daylight. It was like being released from home decorating prison.
Before I continue and translate this into how it applies to life, please know that I still love my dishes and I would do it all over again in a second. And they really are beautiful and elegant and take up way less space in my tiny cabinets.
After unpacking them, washing them and hauling my old stuff off to the Good Will as fast as humanly possible, I set the dinner table for their introduction to the family. I desperately wanted everyone else to love them as much as I did and to enjoy the fact that we were all eating on the exact same dishes at the same time. And none of them were chipped, broken or otherwise defaced. I felt it was very important that we all get off on the right foot since we would be spending a lot of time together. If history is any indicator, another whole generation of Popes could pass before I work up the courage to buy new plates again.
Well, my husband sat down to dinner and immediately hated them. I guess when I asked about buying them I didn’t bother to describe them. And maybe his mind-reading skills were on the blink that day. But what he said next is really the whole point of this. He said, “Kim, there are no squares in nature.” While our conversation deteriorated quickly thereafter, I have to admit, the man made a good point.
In nature when things have rigid edges, which usually happens through some sort of force, the elements (wind, water, and extreme temperatures) wear them down and smooth them out. It might take time, but those rigid edges and right angles will be chipped off and smoothed out. Hence, square might not be the most practical shape for plates.
The same thing is true in my life. When I view the world and people through rigid, square, firm and unyielding constructs – well let’s just say there’s gonna be a whole lot of chipping off that happens. The truth is there’s not always a right or wrong. There’s not always a black and white. There’s not always only one conclusion.
But there is always a choice: to love or not love. Father God made every single one of us completely unique and when we accept Christ and learn to live from our union with Him, the expression of Him through us is unique.
I believe another way to live abundantly is to appreciate the unique expression of Christ not only in ourselves, but in others too. One way to do that is drop expectations that everyone else be exactly like us and see things exactly like we do. In other words, to let other people live free, out of the box.
Back to my dishes for just a moment…one revelation about square plates a year down the road is that yes in fact when right angles and straight lines bump into hard surfaces (like the side of the counter top or each other) they do in deed chip easier than round plates. When a circle bumps into a hard surface it’s more of a glancing blow than a collision, so the likelihood of damage is reduced (I think my geometry and physics courses just somehow bubbled up into my writing…I’m feeling a little smarter right now). My only regret on the dishes is that while they were on sale I didn’t buy a third box to use for replacement pieces.
However, one of my regrets when it comes to people and relationships is that I have been more of a square than a circle. 🙂